Sverre M. Fjelstad

Sverre M. Fjelstads TV-programmer betydde mye for meg i barndommen, ved siden av de fra David Attenborough og Carl Sagan.

Han spiller fortsatt en rolle i livet mitt, ikke minst fordi han satte ut bever der vi har hytte i Østmarka, og han har skrevet mye om akkurat det området. Han var kanskje også indirekte en årsak til den nye nasjonalparken i Østmarka.

Se Ut i naturen: Sverre M. Fjelstad fra 2012 (NRK). Se også Sverre M. Fjelstad (1930-2024) og – Det er naturen og Marka som har formet meg fra Østmarkas Venner.

Why are wind turbines so bad? Anti-wind energy sentiments in Norway

I have noticed there is a strong anti-wind energy sentiment among many otherwise progressive and sustainability-oriented people in Norway. Some even advocate for nuclear energy (!).

To me, that doesn’t quite make sense.

Yes, wind energy has drawbacks. It’s visible and changes the scenery locally, and it does harm and kill some birds.

At the same time, it’s important to keep the bigger picture in mind.

ENERGY CONSUMPTION

We have a society, lifestyle, and civilization that depends on high energy input, and Norwegians use more energy than most similar countries. Our priority should be to reduce our energy consumption.

It’s possible to reduce energy consumption quite dramatically through more efficient design and changes in lifestyle. (When someone lived in our tiny house in the Andes last year, that person used several times as much energy as I do when I am there.)

THERE IS AN IMPACT NO MATTER WHAT

We have to get energy from somewhere, and there is an impact no matter what. Our energy-hungry lifestyle inevitably has a big impact. The question is: What type of impact are we OK with?

Wind energy is an easy target since it’s often local and easily visible. The impact from most other sources of energy is far more severe, although it’s also often less visible, at least locally and short term.

For instance, fossil fuels may not have a very visible local impact in the short term, but it has a huge ad devastating impact globally and long term. The same can be said for nuclear energy.

It’s not good that some birds are harmed by the blades of wind turbines, but there are ways to reduce that impact. For instance, there are wind turbines without blades. In any case, the main impact on the bird population comes from elsewhere – especially loss of habitat, loss of healthy ecosystems, pesticides, loss of insects, and so on, and it’s far more important to make changes there.

THE TERRIBLE CONSEQUENCES OF NUCLEAR ENERGY

Nuclear energy (fission) is a bad alternative.

It moves the cost to future generations which itself is ethically questionable. They don’t have a say.

The waste storage requires ongoing maintenance for millennia, and something will inevitably go wrong. When it goes wrong, the impact is immeasurably worse than the impact of wind energy. It can devastate life in a whole region for millennia. (This can happen even after humans are gone, so we are pushing the consequences onto whatever life is here then.)

Fusion energy is an exception. If we could develop useable fusion energy, it would have a much lower impact and likely generally be a good solution. The drawback is that it requires a centralized system, and it’s still years or decades in the future.

SOME SOLUTIONS

So what’s the solution? Here are some places to start: Reduce energy use. Use more local renewable energy, whatever makes the most sense where you are. (Solar, ground, wind, ocean, water, etc.) Find better storage. Keep looking for better solutions.

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How to make Nordic winters enjoyable

I love the Nordic winters. It’s just that my system and health don’t love it quite so much.

I love candles when it’s dark and cold outside.

I love sitting by the wood stove or fireplace.

I love having a cup of something hot.

I love reading a good book.

I love going skiing and skating when that’s possible.

I love going for walks with friends.

I love my little sun-mimicking lamp.

I love warm comfort food. (Baked vegetables, a nice stew, etc.)

I love thick socks and a sheepskin behind my back or under my feet.

I love going to a nice cozy café.

I love the sunrise and sunset and the sun low on the horizon.

I love wearing warm wool clothes outside. I love the layers so I can be comfortable.

I love long wool underwear.

I love making snowmen, sledding, and making miniature ski jumps for bottles.

I love strings of lights inside and outside.

I love walking around in the neighborhood and looking at the houses and sometimes into the windows and smelling the cooking.

I love the quiet that comes with a blanket of snow.

I love putting food out for the birds and watching them eat.

I love looking at the traces of birds and animals in the snow.

I love skiing through a forest to a public cabin where I can sit by the fireplace with hot chocolate and a warm waffle with strawberry jam.

I love taking a rest from cross-country skiing with chocolate and oranges.

I love cross-country skiing through a snow-covered forest and stopping frequently to listen and take in the views.

I love skating on a lake when the ice is free of snow.

I love the outdoor winter craft fair at the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History.

I love taking a ferry on the Oslo fiord with the low sun and winter landscape.

I love walking through the botanical garden with the naked trees.

I love sitting in the charming café at the old Ås train station.

I love winter photography.

I love making use of the long winter nights for night photography.

I love dinner with friends with candles, good music, and a woodstove or fireplace.

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The best politician?

The leader of the conservative party in Norway (Erna Solberg) is in hot water these days. Her husband clearly used inside information from her and her government to work the stock market. He bought and sold large amounts of stocks at crucial moments, often the day before her government announced policies that significantly influenced the value of those stocks. She has thrown him under the bus and abandoned any responsibility for this situation, even if she – crucially – is legally responsible for making sure these things don’t happen. And she has received a lot of criticism for it.

A friend of mine on social media says he doesn’t agree politically with her in everything but feels sad since she sees her as the best politician in Norway.

DIFFERENTIATING SKILLS AND POLITICS

In many ways, I admire that approach.

He discerns between political skills and the content of politics.

He acknowledges that she has skills and characteristics many would like to see in a politician, even if we don’t agree with all or most of the content of her politics.

It’s a useful distinction and it reflects sincerity and intellectual honesty.

THE CRUCIAL SKILLS SHE DOES NOT EMBODY

Yes, she may have skills and characteristics many would like to see in a politician.

At the same time, she clearly does not embody certain skills I see as crucial for a politician.

She does not seem to have much interest in thinking in the big picture and long term.

She chooses to ignore the dire warnings of scientists.

As I see it, this shows that she lacks crucial political skills.

CAN SHE BE THE BEST POLITICIAN IF SHE OPERATES WITH HER HEAD IN THE SAND?

Is she the best politician if she is ignoring the warnings from tens of thousands of scientists? If she is not taking what they say seriously and is not prioritizing deep and profound changes in all our social systems. (Not the least our economic system which is blind to existing within an ecosystem with limited ability to produce resources and absorb the products of civilization.) Is she the best politician if she lives with her head in the sand and pretends it’s all mostly OK with just a few problems here and there that can be fixed with minor tweaks? Will future generations see her as the best politician? *

Yes, she may be skilled in some facets of being a politician. And can she be the “best” if she is ignoring scientists and the biggest issue humanity is facing today? Can she be the best politician if she is ignoring that humanity is using far more resources than Earth’s ecosystems can keep up with? If she is ignoring – to take just one of many examples – that the acidification of the oceans may lead them to collapse with disastrous consequences for all of humanity and most life on Earth?

DERAILING THE DISCUSSION? OR FOCUSING ON THE BIGGER PICTURE?

I know that this sounds, in some way, like the talk of a teenager, and it’s exactly the kind of things I said as a teenager in the ’80s.

Some will say that what I am bringing up is beside the point. He obviously talked about certain skills independent of politics, and I switched the focus to the content of politics. That is, in some ways, a derailing of the original conversation.

And yet, what do we see as included in essential and crucial political skills? Isn’t taking science seriously an essential political skill in our modern world? Isn’t looking at the big picture and thinking long-term an essential political skill?

When we talk about these things, do we choose myopia? Or do we look at the bigger picture? Can we afford to leave the bigger picture out of the conversation?

* No party in Norway is really taking this as seriously as they need to. Even the Green Party is watering it down to make it more palatable for more people, which is pragmatic and probably a wise approach. That says more about the voters than the political parties. They are the ones who prefer to not look at reality.

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Hva er oppvåkning? Og litt om oppvåkningsprosessen

Jeg tenkte jeg skulle skrive noen få ord om oppvåkning og oppvåkningsprosessen, og på norsk for en gangs skyld.

Hvem jeg er

Da jeg var 16 skjedde det en oppvåkning her som endret livet mitt fullstendig. Det skjedde spontant, da jeg gikk på en kort grusvei om kvelden under stjernehimmelen. Fra å ha et normalt ateistisk verdensbilde uten interesse for disse tingene, så viste alt seg som Gud. Alt, uten unntak, var Gud – og det var klart at Gud hadde tatt seg selv som denne personen for å ha den opplevelsen for seg selv, og så hadde våknet opp fra det. Dette gikk aldri bort.

Etter dette fulgte noen år med svært sterke energier som gikk gjennom systemet. Jeg leste store mengder psykologi, buddhisme, taoism, kristen mystikk osv., studerte senere psykologi, og bodde et par tiår i USA hvor jeg studerte videre, bodde på et Zen senter i noen år (Kanzeon Zen Center under Genpo Roshi), og utforsket en lang rekke tilnærminger til psykologi og oppvåkning.

Det er mer om dette i en annen artikkel på norsk.

Hva er oppvåkning?

Det er mange myter og forestillinger om dette.

Kort sagt er det å finne vår sanne natur. Vi finner oss selv som kapasitet for våre opplevelser – tanker, følelser, fornemmelser, syn, smak osv. Eller vi kan si at vi finner oss selv som kapasitet for dette mennesket og den videre verden som vi opplever det. Alt skjer i og som hva vi er.

Dette høres kanskje litt mer kjedelig ut enn sånn det ofte er beskrevet, men det er essensen av det.

Siden alle våre opplevelser skjer i og som hva vi er, og vi kan – med fare for at det blir litt misforstått – kalle dette bevissthet, så vil vi oppleve alt som bevissthet. For oss, så er alt – bord, datamaskin, kropp, tanker, andre mennesker, gulv, trær, stjerner osv. – bevissthet.

Er dette den sanne naturen til alt som er? Ja, vi opplever det på den måten. Og det kan godt være sånn også. Da kan vi ta det ett skritt videre og si at alt er Gud eller bevissthet.

Siden alt skjer i og som hva vi er, så gir dette en enhetsopplevelse. For oss, så er alt ett.

Dette er ikke nødvendigvis noe som skjer en gang for alle. Det er noe vi ser og legger merke til her og nå. Det er også noe vi kan leve fra her og nå, og vi kan utforske hvordan det er å leve fra det i ulike situasjoner i livet.

Det er, som sagt, en del myter om oppvåkning. Det er ikke en tilstand, men det som alle tilstander skjer innenfor. Det løser ikke alle våre menneskelige utfordringer og problemer. Det gir ikke varig lykke, men det er det som alle følelser skjer innenfor. Det gir oss ikke nødvendigvis en lang rekke innsikter, bortsett fra en innsikt i vår sanne natur. Det er ikke nødvendigvis noe som gjør vårt liv i verden så veldig annerledes, selv om det – om vi vil og utforsker det – kan gjøre at vi lever fra mer klarhet og vennlighet.

Kan vi finne det for oss selv?

Ja, absolutt. En av mytene om oppvåkning er at det kun er for spesielt utvalgte eller at det krever tiår eller mange liv med åndelig praksis. Det er noe de aller fleste kan få en smak av relativt raskt, om de blir ledet gjennom noen enkle øvelser og via noen pekepinner.

Det vi finner kan virke litt skuffende først siden det virker litt for enkelt, åpenbart, og uten fyrverkeri. Men om vi blir vant med å legge merke til hva vi er og leve fra det, så vil det endre og transformere oss og livet vårt på et dypest mulig nivå.

Om å leve fra det

I en del tilfeller så er det relativt enkelt å finne hva vi er, men å leve fra det tar tid. Det tar hele livet, og selv da har vi sannsynligvis bare utforsket det på en overfladisk måte sett utifra alt det er å oppdage og utforske.

Hvorfor tar det så lang tid? Fordi selv om vi legger merke til hva vi er, så er det mange sider ved oss som mennesker som fortsatt lever fra vår gamle måte å oppleve verden og oss selv på. De lever utifra en opplevelse av separasjon.

Disse sidene av oss kommer til overflaten i ulike situasjoner i livet, og vi kan da risikere å leve fra våre gamle mønstre igjen. Det er ikke noe galt med dette. Det er en del av prosessen. Og når disse sidene av oss kommer til overflaten, så er det en gyllen mulighet for å invitere de til å transformere seg selv så de lever mer utifra en enhetsopplevelse.

Denne prosessen er som sagt langvarig og det er mange måter å utforske det på. Derfor vil jeg ikke si mer om det her. (Det er mange artikler her på engelsk om akkurat det.)

Støtte i prosessen

Det hjelper å ha noe støtte i denne prosessen. Jeg hadde det selv ikke, i de første årene, og det er egentlig sjelden jeg har møtt noen som virkelig forstår hva dette dreier seg om. På ressurssiden er det en del bøker jeg selv liker.

Og om du har lyst til å ta kontakt, så gjør gjerne det. Jeg vet selv hvor mye det kan bety å ta kontakt med noen som skjønner hva det dreier seg om. Jeg har også en del erfaring med hvordan vi kan finne vår sanne natur for oss selv, hvordan vi kan leve fra det og hjelpe deler av oss med transformasjonen, og fallgruver og utfordringer i prosessen – inkludert kundalini, mørke netter osv..

Chronic fatigue retreat in Norway

After being officially diagnosed with chronic fatigue (CFS) in Norway, I was offered to participate in a four-week course for CFS. I think of it more as a CFS retreat, and I thought I would share a few impressions from it here.

THE SETTING

The retreat is held at a rehabilitation center in southern Norway specializing in, among other things, chronic fatigue. The location is by a lake in a peaceful and beautiful valley. Everything was paid by the government, including transportation to and from the center. (I like that we collectively in Norway contribute to these things and decide it’s important.)

We have our own rooms (spacious, clean, quiet), four healthy and delicious meals a day, and there are several common areas. For those with food intolerances – which is most of us with CFS – they prepare special meals. They also have a quiet room for those who needed peaceful meals.

The CFS staff is professional, personable, kind, and with a very good understanding of CFS and its challenges, and what typically helps people with CFS.

The schedule is gentle. Four meals a day. A class (workshop) three times a week following breakfast. Mindfulness. Mindful movement. Some gentle activities in nature.

We can have the food delivered to our room if we feel it’s too much to do it ourselves. And we can ask to have someone change our sheets and towels.

I had special meals (without wheat or dairy). And I prioritized the classes and sometimes rested instead of participating in the mindfulness.

There will be a follow-up two-week retreat sometime next year.

OVERALL IMPRESSION

When I looked into the different locations for CFS-courses in Norway, this one stood out. Past participants gave it almost exclusively positive reviews. And I have to say I am very impressed by the staff, the place, and what I have gotten out of it. I am very grateful for having been given the opportunity to be here.

AVOIDING WORSENING

I know some people experience a worsening after participating in a CFS course, although I suspect it happens less often here than other places. The staff call potential participants in advance to screen them and make sure (as well as they can) that they have a high enough capacity to participate and get something out of it without worsening. (Or, at least, not more than we can recover from relatively quickly.)

During the course, the staff strongly encourage us to pay attention to early symptoms of doing too much and stay within what we are able to do without risking crashing. We are encouraged to create a schedule for ourselves we are comfortable with. (I am on a reduced schedule.)

And whenever we say no to an event because we need to rest, we receive strong positive reinforcement for doing so. After all, learning just that is one of the reasons we are here. And by resting instead of overdoing it, we set a good example for the other participants.

WHAT I GOT OUT OF IT

For me, what I appreciated the most was to be understood – by the staff and my fellow CFS participants. So I felt normal. I didn’t have to explain. I didn’t have to worry I wouldn’t be understood. I didn’t have to worry about what they would think when I had to choose to rest instead of participating in an event or social activities.

Most of the content was familiar to me, but it was very helpful to go through it, have conversations about it, and have the importance of it reinforced.

In the long term, I hope to learn to stabilize better and avoid frequent crashes, especially since this is essential for giving my body enough rest so it can gradually heal itself.

MAIN EMPHASIS

The main emphasis is to learn and use strategies that improve our quality of life and give our body the best opportunity to gradually heal itself.

Stay within a level of activity so we avoid crashes. (Taking the elevator down to the basement.) Sometimes, we may choose to do a little more, but in general stay within a range that gives stability. This gives the body an opportunity to gradually heal instead of frequently having to use resources to recover from crashes.

Notice the early signs of needing to rest and take these seriously. If we had diabetes, we would take insulin as soon as we needed to. It’s the same for CFS. As soon as we notice we need our medicine, which is rest, then take it. Prioritize it.

Reduce stress, including in the following ways:

(a) We learned to recognize stressful thoughts and what they do to our emotions, symptoms, and behavior. And replace these with more realistic thoughts that are more kind, calms down our system, and lead to behavior that helps us rest and take care of ourselves.

(b) We found and prioritized our personal values (what’s important to us), and learned how following “shoulds” create stress while following our values calms the system.

(c) We learned basic mindfulness and noticing and allowing thoughts, emotions, and sensations, and that we are not any of those. And that fighting discomfort and reality create stress while noticing, allowing, and befriending discomfort and the reality of our situation calms our system.

(d) We explored that we are all 100% valuable independent of what we can or cannot do, and what we think and feel about how valuable we are. We all agree that babies are 100% valuable even if they can’t do much and create work for others, so when do we lose that value? It’s only in our thoughts and feelings we reduce our value, while in reality, we keep our 100% value.

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Spirituality in Norway

I have lived several years on the US west coast (Oregon and California) and am very comfortable with the more mature spiritual communities I find there. They draw on decades of experience with exploring spiritual traditions and practices, and combining them with western approaches to therapy, bodywork, and healing. 

In Norway, where I grew up and find myself right now, I haven’t found any communities where I feel at home in that way. And, if I am honest, not many – or perhaps any – individuals I resonate with in that way. Of course, there are many spiritual communities and even more individuals I don’t know about and haven’t yet met. 

What I have found is less experience, less variety of experience, and overall less maturity. It feels a little provincial. And for good reasons, since the contemporary spiritual community in Norway is provincial. It’s not as rich or old as in some other places. 

Of course, this sounds a little arrogant. But it’s also real. The US west coast is unique in this way due to its unique history (partly because of the large Asian population and the counter-culture of the 60s and 70s). 

What I have found more of in Norway are people being more dogmatic about the one approach they have found and are familiar with, or people with a lose grasp on reality who seem to want to believe anything that’s weird (and the more weird the better). Again, this is perhaps to be expected since contemporary spirituality is relatively new here, and it’s perhaps also a not entirely fair description. 

Whenever I write these type of posts, I am very aware that they reflect my own hangups and wounds. I am holding up a mirror to myself. I find myself in how I see the US west coast and in Norway. I have the more mature, inclusive, and innovative forms of spirituality in me, and also the less mature versions. And those projections come from beliefs, identities, and wounds that I can explore through inquiry and find some resolution for through a variety of approaches. 

Why wolves?

There is an ongoing debate in norway about whether we should have wolves or not, and how many. The fault lines – as so often these days – seem to go between the urban and/or more educated, and the rural and/or less educated.

Here are some of the arguments against wolves, and my comments.

They take livestock. They do, but they take far fewer than trains, traffic, and disease. And the farmers receive compensation from the state if any are taken.

They are a risk to humans. No, they are virtually no risk to humans. The real risks are what we all know about, including traffic, suicide, poor lifestyle and food choices, and much more.

They are evil and scary. Yes, we may culturally have learned to see them as evil and project our shadow onto them, and they may trigger fear in us. That’s no reason to get rid of them. (I suspect this is what’s really going on since the apparently rational arguments are not very strong.)

And here are some arguments for having wolves.

For the benefit of the wolves. They have as much right to be here as we do. They are sentient beings just as us and wish to live.

For the ecosystems. Our ecosystems evolved with large predators, and healthy and thriving ecosystems depend on large predators.

For our benefit. Just as ecosystems, we need the wild. We evolved with and in the wild, and with high level predators. We need it for our own health and well being. We need it as a reminder of who we are, in an evolutionary context. We need it to feel alive.

Why are people really against wolves? I suspect primal fear of wolves is one aspect. Specifically, fear of losing animals to wolves may trigger a more primal fear than losing them to illness or trains. Another may be instinctual competition. Humans and wolves are both large predators, and it’s natural to try to eliminate the competition.

In my view, the arguments against don’t hold up well. And the arguments for are far more important – for them, for us, for nature as a whole.

As usual, I can add that this view is very predictable for someone with my background. I grew up in a well educated urban family. I love nature. I want to consider the rights and needs of other beings, including nonhuman species. I am liberal in terms of politics. If I had grown up as a sheep farmer in an area with wolves, my views may well have been different. And that doesn’t mean I won’t speak up for wolves. They need someone to speak for them.

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Norway and oil

Since my teens, it’s been obvious to me that Norway needs to invest money from oil into research and development in renewable energy technology. That way, Norway has (had?) a chance to be at the forefront also in the age of renewable energy. They didn’t, and the age of oil is really already over. It’s not too late, although the current government don’t seem to be very reality based on this topic.

It’s hard for me to understand. They have the opportunity to create a graceful transition from an oil-based economy to a renewable technology one. They have the opportunity to let Norway be in the forefront of the new age of renewable energy. And they don’t. Instead, they pretend we are still in the age of oil and they miss a golden opportunity.

Norway’s decades long fascination with oil

I read a story about possible large untapped oil reserves in the Barents sea outside of Norway. The implication is that Norway’s economy can continue to float on pumping and selling oil to the world. This is obviously a naive assumption. As someone said, the stone age didn’t end because of lack of oil, and the fossil fuel age will not end due to lack of fossil fuel. It will end because a better technology comes along, and that technology is already here and is continually being developed.

We have known that for decades, and we have also known that Norway needs to channel oil money into developing renewable technologies. With the wealth currently generated by oil money, Norway is in a unique position to be on the forefront of this field, and continue to be on the forefront of the global shift into renewable energy. And yet, that’s not what they do. Politicians, media, and people in general, still seem transfixed by a path that’s already outdated. And there is still time to make this shift.

 

Dual citizenship in Norway

Norway is one of the few western countries that do not allow dual (or triple) citizenship. Only a few of the smaller political parties support it, while the larger do not.

I have communicated with politicians from several of the larger parties on this topic, and am baffled by their response. Their main argument for denying dual citizenship is that people “will become less patriotic”. I am unable to see how that could be the case.

For most of my adult life, I have lived abroad, and if I could have dual citizenship the main difference would be practical. It would make many things easier for me. I cannot see how it would influence my “patriotism” or lack of it. (I can think of many other things that would influence it more, to be honest.)

My guess is that their aversion to allowing dual citizenship is more rooted in xenophobia and perhaps even racism. They don’t want to make it too easy for people from other countries become Norwegian citizens. But even that argument doesn’t make sense. If foreigners live in Norway while being citizens of other countries, they are still living and working in Norway. That won’t change.

It’s possible that I am missing something essential here, but this aversion to dual citizenship does seem irrational, illogical, and based in unquestioned tradition and perhaps emotional reasons. It does not seem to be based on a thorough examination of the situation, and what makes most sense in the world today.

My experience with Lyme in Norway

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In mid-May, I noticed a numbness in hands, feet, and face, and weakness in my hands. Two weeks later, I discovered a red ring on the underside of my arm, near the armpit. I went to a doctor who thought it could be Lyme disease and gave me a five-day antibiotics treatment (this was in the US). The numbness went away after one day.

Two weeks later, in Norway, the symptoms returned and were much stronger. The numbness was back in my hands, feet, and face, and now also tongue and mouth (and a bit later lower arms), along with stiff neck, very strong brain fog and grogginess, and fatigue. (The initial extremely strong fatigue and brain fog could be related to jet lag, and I also have baseline fatigue and brain fog from the CFS. Although the unusually strong grogginess remains now even after the jetlag is gone.) I also have a weak grip (things slip out of my hands), and when I get up after resting I move and feel like an old man.

I had gathered that Lyme is a controversial topic in Norway. The official position seems to be that the infection itself doesn’t last very long. (If the symptoms are longer lasting, it’s something else.) Doctors who treat this “non-existing” disease in Norway risk losing their license and one did even last year.

When I called my regular doctor, I got an appointment the same day by the receptionist. She called back within an hour and said that when the doctor had heard why I wanted to see him, he canceled the appointment and said I could possibly get an appointment two months later. A bright spot: Some days later, I was able to get an appointment. My doctor looked at the red ring, did some neurological tests, and agreed that Lyme is a probable diagnosis. He gave me a relatively mild two-week antibiotics treatment.

From what I understand, it’s important to treat it more thoroughly, especially early in the process, to prevent problems later on. I got the names of some doctors who may be more knowledgeable about Lyme and contacted several of them. The pattern was the same with all of them: When they heard why I wanted to see them, they either didn’t respond or said they possibly had an appointment about two months in the future (and to call them them to set it up).

The last one I talked with was initially friendly and welcoming, and when heard why I called responded: “that’s a controversial topic in Norway, I need to go now and will call you back later, goodbye”. And then didn’t respond to my later attempts at contacting him.

The essence is that it seems impossible to get quality treatment for Lyme disease in Norway. That’s why most Norwegians with Lyme disease go to Germany or Poland to see doctors there.

Several things come up for me around this:

I had expected Norwegian doctors to at least have the integrity to tell me they can’t treat me since they may lose their license if they do. Instead, they either cancel my appointment, don’t respond, or tell me to call back in two months. (Which seems irresponsible considering my symptoms,)

Since there is disagreement about Lyme internationally, I would expect the Norwegian doctors and government to take a precautionary approach. To treat any possible or likely Lyme disease thoroughly (initial four or six-week antibiotics treatment + anti-cyst medication). Instead, they chose to not treat it, avoid patients who may have it, or they treat it in a minimalistic way that may make it worse in the long run.

I don’t know the politics around this, but the official policy on Lyme in Norway does seem to be influenced by politics, and perhaps arrogance and wounded egos.

I should mention that I am among the more cautious when it comes to using medication and antibiotics (also to reduce the risk of creating more antibiotic-resistant strains), but in this case, the risks of leaving it untreated or wrongly treated seem serious enough so I chose to go the medical and precautionary route.

This also triggers the victim identity in me, since it comes on top of my existing struggles with CFS, and it happened just as I left the US (where I could have received the proper treatment) for Norway (where I can’t).

Update: It seems there are three possibilities when people are infected by Lyme. (a) It lasts for a relatively short period of time and then is gone, perhaps due to antibiotics treatment. (b) It can become longer-lasting, due to continued infection. (c) There may be an auto-immune response which creates problems. I am sure there are other possibilities too. I haven’t read much about it yet.

Update 2, mid-July 2015: I went to Poland to see a Lyme specialist there. It turns out that he also specializes in CFS. It’s possible that there is a weakness in my system that makes me more susceptible to both CFS and Lyme. He took a good number of tests to get an idea of what’s going on, and what the best course of treatment may be. One of the main questions is why my mitochondria seem compromised, and unable to produce as much energy as they normally would. I feel a little better, partly from what he gave me, and partly from feeling I am in good hands and that someone actually takes my case seriously and may be able to do something about it.

Update 3, July 16, 2015: I had an appointment with my regular doctor in Norway (about referral to neurologist for CFS), and he interrupted me and changed the topic as soon as I tried to give him an update about the Lyme. I still have numbness in arms, legs, and face, a stiff neck, strong headache, very strong grogginess, memory problems, diarrhea, and more, so it seems irresponsible by him to dismiss it – to the point of not even wanting to hear about it. (The symptoms are stronger some days than others, and obviously quite debilitating.)

Update 2016: After hitting my head against the wall with the Norwegian health-care system, I went to a very good private clinic in Gdansk, Poland, and received treatment there. It was expensive but worth it. The symptoms reduced greatly although it seems that the treatment wasn’t enough for the Lyme and co-infections to go away completely. It may just be that I didn’t go there enough times and for long enough.

Update 2019: I am now free of symptoms from Lyme and co-infections, and it seems to be due to several Vortex Healing treatments. The symptoms have returned about half a year following the Vortex Healing session(s), although it’s easy enough to schedule a new session (or a series of brief sessions) which makes the symptoms go away again.

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Do you believe in God?

In a poll in Norway asking “do you believe in God”, about a third answered respectively no, yes, and maybe.

I realize that the question probably makes sense to most people.

And I also wish it was more specific.

What type of God do you believe in? What’s your image of God? As transcendent? Immanent? Same as reality? Something you relate to on your own? Or through a religion? Or both?

And what does “believe” mean? Have you had direct experiences of Spirit, or God (or whatever you wish to call it)? Is it something you mostly relate to second hand? Does “belief” cover it? Or doesn’t the word “belief” apply? Is it something you are actively engaging with and exploring?

Do I believe in the official Christian image of God? Not really. There is a lot there that’s more about theology, and I see as not very insightful or important.

Do I believe in the God of Christ or Jesus? Not really. I don’t “believe” in it, but I do have a relationship to that God. I relate to something that seems very similar to what Jesus did.

Do I see God as transcendent or immanent? Yes, both.

Do I see God as equal to reality? Yes. I see God as reality, as what is. As what we explore through science, and spirituality, both. (And also art, literature, music, dance, and much more.)

Does the word “belief” cover it? Not really. I appreciate pointers and even maps, and use these sometimes to orient. Mainly, it’s something I am exploring through own experience. Through various forms of meditation, prayer, inquiry, body movements, being in relationships and nature, and more.

What would I have answered if I was asked that question? I would probably asked what they mean by the question. They would have said “no idea”, and I would have been about equally likely to say yes, no, and maybe. Yes, since all is God. No, since I don’t connect to much of the Christian theology. And maybe, since I don’t know exactly what they are asking. I am split about equally in the three answers, just like the Norwegian population.

And I know from other surveys that many or perhaps most Norwegians relate most closely to a more personal and non-denominational form of spirituality, only indirectly – if at all – related to traditional Christianity.

Terrorists and more

Since the world’s attention is on events in Norway right now, I can say a couple of things about it.

First, it’s beautiful to see when people respond with caring, love and an open heart. I spent a few hours by the main church in Oslo, where they have the sea of flowers, and soaked in and shared in that atmosphere. It’s also good to see when people respond with compassion for the one who pulled the trigger.

Then, something about terror. There is a whole set of stories I can look at here.

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Arne Næss

arne_naess

Arne Næss died yesterday, 96 years old. He was a Norwegian philosopher and mountaineer, and most known internationally as one of the founders of deep ecology.

He is easily among the five people who have influenced me the most, and I was fortunate enough to see him speak several times, and also be in personal communication with him a few years back.

His philosophy reflected and flowed from his life.

And that philosophy was unusually and brilliantly clear. Always practical. Profoundly life centered. And as himself, innocent and child-like in its playfulness – especially in his later years.

Update: Arne Næss, Norwegian Philosopher, Dies at 96 from NY Times.

Update 2: He was beloved by the Norwegian people, and received a state sponsored funeral attended by the prime minister and members of the royal family. There is something beautiful – and profoundly right – in that happening for a life-centered eco-philosopher….

🙂

Here is an excerpt from The Call of the Mountain, a documentary about Arne Næss.

Norwegian resistance and two thoughts in the head at the same time

Since the movie about Max Manus is coming to the theaters in Norway these days, there is a resurgence of interest in the Norwegian resistance during WWII. A couple of things has puzzled me about it. One is why the communist resistance continues to largely be ignored, even after the fall of the Soviet Union and so many years after the war. The other has to do with how the Norwegian resistance is sometimes talked about, as if it had more – or different – impact than it really did. (Not that I am a historian.)

A recent essay in Aftenposten addressed the last issue and led to some controversy.

But it seems that this too doesn’t have to be so complicated.

The Norwegian resistance acted in genuinely heroic ways, giving everything – including often their lives – for a free Norway. Their existence lifted the morale and gave a sense of purpose and hope to many in Norway. And their actions did have an impact, although often local and limited.

It is also pretty clear that their activities were often no more than a nuisance to the occupying forces. Mosquito bites. Not contributing significantly to the outcome of the war. And quite often, the Nazi retaliation against civilians (executions) was predictable and maybe not justified by what the resistance achieved.

As they say in Norway, it is possible to keep two thoughts in the head at the same time. We can greatly appreciate and value their efforts and sacrifices. (If I had lived then, I hope I would have joined them.) And we can also acknowledge that their actions led to needless loss of civilians, and didn’t contribute significantly to the outcome of the war.

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Holmenkollen

I took Jen to see the Holmenkollen Ski Jump last winter, the classic and iconic ski jump in Oslo. It has been dismantled now to be replaced with an updated version.

It seems strangely old fashioned – and uninformed – that its main feature is light pollution.

Pompel & Pilt

An episode of Pompel & Pilt, an anti-pedagogical Norwegian children’s TV series that made a big impression on one or two generations of Norwegian kids. I believe it was meant to get kids familiar with the absurdity of life, and question authority…! Worked for me, at least. Sorry about the lack of English subtitles, but it doesn’t make much more sense even if you understand Norwegian.

Pompel & Pilt are repair men, looking for something to repair, and get into uncomfortable situations with Gorgon The Janitor and some other creatures.

It is inspired by dadaism and absurdist theater.

Erased lifestyle boundary between Christians and non-Christians

It is my experience too, and research agrees: The difference between Christians and non-Christians in Norway – when it comes to views and lifestyle – is hardly noticeable anymore.

Christians are more and more progressive and liberal minded, and non-Christians are more and more into spirituality.

It is maybe not so surprising. Strong humanistic values is a shared ground for Christians and non-Christians, as are post-modern and liberal views.

(I guess it is what happens when you hardly have any fundamentalists around, either at the religious or the non-religious side. It gets far less polarized in general.)

Here is an article in Norwegian on the topic.

Discovering new music

In my exploration of new – to me – Norwegian music, I came across Hanne Hukkelberg. I like her quirky, wobbly, very sweet, slightly off-beat approach to pop music, inncent on the surface yet very sophisticated as well.

Stangeland’s Tea

I my teens, I discovered a tea which had a profound effect on me, nourishing me deeply throughout the body and energetically. It is made by Stangeland who worked with energy medicine, and put together different teas to nurture us in the ways our modern foods and life often does not. I have used it occasionally since then, most recently right now, and am still amazed by how deeply nurturing I experience it. Especially when I feel depleted for one reason or another.

The tea can be ordered through their website, which is only in Norwegian. (But you can email.) The basic tea is called “basis te”, which I now use in combination with the chakra tea.

They recommend simmering for a couple of hours, store in the fridge, and drink half a cup two or three times a day. I cheat and make it as an infusion (which in my experience works as well, and is easier): Fill a jar with hot water and add the tea (a couple of large spoons), let it sit for a while, and store cold. I also refill once or twice with hot water to get more out of the herbs.

Caught up in details, missing the big picture

operaen.jpg

There is a new opera being built in Oslo, and the big discussion is whether they should have used the white marble they decided on, which is great for statues and interiors but a nightmare for exteriors, or good old Norwegian granite, which is more appropriate in terms of maintenance and because it is local.

What very few has mentioned is the obvious question: what happens when the sea levels rise? If current trends continues, and the models are even close to being accurate, the sea level will rise several meters within a few decades, and it seems clear that the building has not been designed with that in mind. The architect’s presentation above is not after a several meter sea level rise, it is before, under current conditions.

I guess they built it on the same principle as sand art: something to be enjoyed very temporarily. How post modern of them.

Still racism

Racism is not only an attitude of seeing people of a certain ethnic background as inherently inferior, and then treat them accordingly. It can also be more insidious. Whenever we attribute something to someone based on their membership in a particular ethnic group, and act on it without checking if it is true, it is racism. (And if the group membership is based on sex, then sexism, or age, then ageism, and so on.)

This second form of racism has real life effects as much as the first one, which a current case in Norway is an unfortunate example of.

A black man in his thirties was knocked down in a park (he asked some guys to take it easy with their soccer playing because there were several infants in the area), fell and hit his head, was unconscious for a while, then delirious and lost control of his functions which led to wetting his pants.

When the ambulance came, they apparently thought “black man, in a park, delirious, wet his pants” so assumed “he must be drunk or high on something” and decided to not take him, to the shock and protests of everyone around (several witnesses, including his girlfriend, had stayed to wait for him to be taken to the hospital). Apparently, their trust in their own logic was so strong that information from a large number of witnesses, contradicting their flawed assumptions, did not sway their decision.

Maybe the most amazing thing is that the ambulance personnel and hospital administrators insist they did everything right, and that racism was not in the picture. And this is understandably what disturbs and upsets a large number of people right now.

If they had found a 10 year old girl in the same state, would they have sweared at her and left her there, as they did with him? Or a 70 year old nicely dressed man with his wife at his side? Or even a white man in his thirties? It seems highly unlikely.

I assume health personnel are trained in noticing symptoms of their own racism, and not let it affect their decisions and behavior in these types of situations. But something it obviously still missing, including an acknowledgment that yes, this was probably racism.

Not the blatant “niggers go home” one, but the one assuming certain things about individuals from a particular group, and not allowing contradictory information to get in the way of acting on that assumption.

We all do this, of course. We all make assumptions about individuals based on their group membership. But we can notice this, avoid blindly acting on it, and also more actively look for information to contradict these initial assumptions.

Lebensborn

This is one of those heart wrenching stories that shows us what blindness to the shadow in ourselves, and not standing up against it when expressed in others, can bring about (there are of course many other aspects to this issue besides projections.)

Living hell of Norway’s ‘Nazi’ children (BBC)

We all have our ideas of what it would be good to teach and learn in schools, and a top candidate on my list – along with interpersonal skills and learning about group dynamics and facilitation – is projections. How do we recognize, and then work with, our projections, and in particular our shadow? And how do we deal with others, as individuals or groups, when they are in the grips of their shadow?

Some of the warning signs of being in the grips of the shadow are…

  • A strong sense of separation between I/us and you/them
  • Seeing us as good/right and them as wrong/evil/bad (or reversed, in unusual cases)
  • Strong emotions of fear or hatred, and variations of those (disgust, unease, etc.), and seeing “them” as triggering or even causing it
  • A certainty of being right
  • A dehumanization of the “other”
  • A lack of empathy with the “other”
  • An inability to recognize our common humanity, seeing in myself what I see in them, and the other way around
  • Reacting in a stronger way than what the situation seems to warrant (as seen by others who are not in the grips of a similar shadow)
  • Scapegoating
  • Overgeneralizing and broadening the group of “other” to include people who rationally do not have anything to do with what triggered our fear/hatred in the first place (such as the children of German soldiers in Norway)
  • A fear/hatred, combined with dehumanization, which – in its extreme expression – can go to the point of wanting to eliminate the “other”, or at least make their lives miserable

We all do this of course, although rarely in its extreme form. But the difference is (a) whether we recognize what is going on or not, (b) how we express it (we always do, even when we try not to), and (c) how we work with it if at all.

I have heard people talk about working with projections in general, including through processes such as The Work, as impractical – just an interesting philosophy. Fun to explore superficially, but nothing of real value. But if it is engaged with wholeheartedly and with sincerity, there are few things as practical and impactful in our lives, and for those we are in relationship with.

It goes to the core of what it means to be human and how we live our life. It can even prevent or soften the impact of the horrors the “Nazi children” in Norway, and in other European countries, went through… and others go through daily around the world.

When we sincerely work on our shadow, it is a practical act of compassion, not only for ourselves but for others as well. It helps us act on our own shadow less blindly, and deal with it more effectively – and with more clarity – when those around us are in the grips of their own shadow.

Sounds from home

Sometimes my longing for home comes up more strongly than other times, such as today, sparked by an article in the Observer, Arctic Magic, about yoik and also Adjagas.

Yes, this is the physical original home, my birth place (not home as who I am, the fullness of this individual, nor home as what I am, as Spirit)…

So in terms of music reminding me of home, here is one of my favorite Norwegian music videos (sweetly and charmingly human and innocent) , and a good song as well.

I’d Rather Dance with You, Kings of Convenience. Their other videos are also worth a look and listen: Misread, Failure, Cayman Islands.

And other music from Norway I often (or sometimes, with the ones further down the list) listen to…

Mari Boine
– Sami traditional song woven into contemporary music.

Jaga Jazzist – experimental jazz (a friend of mine played in this one a while back.)

Jan Garbarek – experimental jazz.

Salvatore, ambient punk band with a classmate and friend of mine from high school (myspace).

Röyksopp – ambient, electronic.

Bel Canto – ambient, electronic (myspace).

Remind Me from Röyksopp (a great way of showing interconnectedness, this one at the mid-range of the holarchy.)

Eple from Röyksopp (this one giving a taste of the seamlessness of the world, again at the mid-range.)